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An Oil Lobbyist Suggested Digging Up Dirt On Liberal Celebrities In A Secretly Taped Speech

If those evil oil baron characters in the Muppet Movie seemed unrealistic (or like class warfare, if you’re Fox News), you’ve probably just never heard of Richard Berman. The political consultant working with the oil and gas industry was recently taped advising industry executives that they need to start playing dirty, saying his buddies need to “be prepared to employ tactics like digging up embarrassing tidbits about environmentalists and liberal celebrities.” No word on whether he then bit the head off a chicken and cackled until the front rows’ faces melted.

The blunt advice from the consultant, Richard Berman, the founder and chief executive of the Washington-based Berman & Company consulting firm, came as Mr. Berman solicited up to $3 million from oil and gas industry executives to finance an advertising and public relations campaign called Big Green Radicals. […]

Wait, this was a bald, bland white guy saying this? I am shocked.

“Think of this as an endless war,” Mr. Berman told the crowd at the June event in Colorado Springs, sponsored by the Western Energy Alliance, a group whose members include Devon Energy, Halliburton and Anadarko Petroleum, which specialize in extracting oil and gas through hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. “And you have to budget for it.”

Mr. Berman is well known in Washington for his technique of creating nonprofit groups like the Center for Consumer Freedom that secretly collect corporate donations to finance the aggressive, often satirical media campaigns his team conceives. They are intended to undermine his opponents, like labor unions or animal rights groups that have tried to spotlight the treatment of animals at meatpacking plants.

Which is not to say animals have no place, according to Berman.

“If you want a video to go viral, have kids or animals,” he said, and then he showed a spot his company had prepared using schoolchildren as participants in a mock union election — to suggest that union bosses do not have real elections.

“Use humor to minimize or marginalize the people on the other side,” he added. “There is nothing the public likes more than tearing down celebrities and playing up the hypocrisy angle,” his colleague Mr. Hubbard said, citing billboard advertisements planned for Pennsylvania that featured Robert Redford. “Demands green living,” they read. “Flies on private jets.” […]

“People always ask me one question all the time: ‘How do I know that I won’t be found out as a supporter of what you’re doing?’ ” Mr. Berman told the crowd. “We run all of this stuff through nonprofit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors. There is total anonymity. People don’t know who supports us.” [New York Times]

Hey, say what you will about him being a comically evil, sulphur-breathing baby eater that no sane person would ever want to associate with, the man knows viral videos. Babies and animals? That’s gold.

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